Brendan Clarke-Smith Column: Great to see such massive investment in boosting education recovery
School pupils have had a tough time throughout this pandemic and the last academic year was difficult for many, not least those who had the added stress of cancelled examinations.
Even prior to the most recent lockdown, Nottinghamshire pupils missed more than 300,000 days of face-to-face teaching just during the Autumn term, mainly down to having to self-isolate or shield due to Covid-19.
Whilst the efforts to facilitate online learning must be applauded, we know that there are many children who will have missed face-to-face teaching and the added advantages that this involves. As a former teacher myself I know the value of delivering lessons in person.
The academic part of the job is important, but teachers also play a vital pastoral role in maintaining the social and emotional wellbeing of their pupils. I think most adults also realise the isolation felt by many when we are unable to see our colleagues, friends and family members. This is why I am so pleased we are finally returning to something resembling normality.
So what are we doing to make sure that pupils are not disadvantaged and can catch up on anything they may have missed? The Government has announced a comprehensive programme to help them catch up on lost learning during the pandemic and children and young people across England will be offered up to 100 million hours of free tuition.
As part of the next step in the government’s plans to boost education recovery, a total of £1.4 billion is being invested, including £1 billion to support up to 6 million, 15-hour tutoring courses for disadvantaged school children, as well as an expansion of the 16-19 tuition fund, targeting key subjects such as maths and English.
It builds on the £1.7 billion already announced to help children catch up on what they missed during the pandemic, which includes summer schools and mental health support, bringing total investment to over £3 billion.
One course of high-quality tutoring has been proven to boost attainment by three to five months, so tutoring will be vital for young people in recovering the teaching hours lost in the last year. Schools will be able to provide additional tutoring support using locally employed tutors.
The added investment is there to make sure that when teachers identify a disadvantaged child in need of support as a result of the pandemic, extra support is available.
There will also be professional development for early years practitioners, including through new programmes focusing on key areas such as speech and language development for the youngest children.
Schools or colleges will be able to offer students in year 13 the option to repeat the year if they have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic. Schools and colleges will be funded to help accommodate the additional student numbers.
Once again, a huge thank you to all of our school staff, pupils and parents for their resilience and drive, which has helped us to get through this pandemic.